Weekly Letter to President Obama
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INAUGURATION,   January 20, 2009

Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
---  Native American proverb
February 25, 2011

The Mideast upheaval continues.  The Shia camped out in Bahrain got a
boost when some activists were released.  Much of what the demonstrators
want was included in the 1973 constitution but that was abrogated two years
later and emergency rule imposed.  In the nineties, demonstrations once
again resulted in promises that remain unfulfilled.  The question now is
whether they will accept promises yet again, and how Saudi Arabia will react
if demonstrations escalate into serious confrontation.  Moreover, the Sunnis
comprising one-third and controlling most of the wealth are unlikely to sit
idly by.

In Libya, the eastern third of the country is no longer under Gadaffi's control
where the army has also defected.  The people have set up committees to
perform essential services.  Mr. Gadaffi seems also to have lost the support
of tribal leaders.  Although stripped of political power by Gadaffi, they still
wield considerable influence because many Libyans identify first with their
tribe.  Of the main ones (Warfallah, Magariha, Al Zintan, Tarhun and
Qadhadfa), the largest, Warfallah, comprises about a million people and was
the first to throw their support behind the protesters.  A third of Tripoli's
residents belong to the Tarhun tribe which is now supporting the
anti-Government forces.  Even some in the Qadhadfa, Gadaffi's own tribe,
are turning against him.  The protesters have a winning hand; now it all
depends on how well they play it.

Palestinians have renewed their protest against the US veto of the Security
Council resolution condemning illegal settlements.  The convoluted
reasoning offered for the vote (the only vote against) just raised our
hypocrisy quotient up another notch.  Granting Israel impunity only leads it
into worse calamities.  Witness the effects of its behavior towards the flotilla
trying to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.  Following the killing of Turkish
nationals, its relations with Turkey could not be worse; it is increasingly